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Behind the Image

Understanding the Old Testament in Medieval Art

Series:

Judith A. Kidd

Scenes and characters from the Old Testament appear frequently in Western medieval art, yet the study of their significance is a neglected area of iconography. A common literature for both Jews and Christians, the Hebrew Scriptures had an especially broad appeal for the Church of the Middle Ages. Many sections of medieval society identified with the Hebrews of the Old Testament and sought from them direct models for leadership, moral behaviour and even art itself. Most of the imagery in medieval art derived from close study of the biblical texts and from the retelling of these stories in contemporary poetry and drama.
This interdisciplinary study of art history and theology takes a thematic approach to the ways in which the Church drew on the ancient texts, focusing on the topics precedent, word, time, typology and synagogue. The introduction given here to the vast scholarly and literary hinterland behind the art, with insights into the thought processes from which the images emerged, not only brings fresh perspectives to specific sculptures, wall paintings, stained glass and liturgical objects, but facilitates a better understanding of Old Testament iconography wherever it is encountered.

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Image: Daniel, Job and Noah crowned by Angels, Canterbury cathedral, north choir aisle window, detail, twelfth/thirteenth century. Photo: John Sells. With kind permission of the Dean and Chapter, Canterbury. Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Control Number: 2013954290 For John, Flo, Ben, Tottie and Philip

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